The Scowcroft Center’s namesake, General Brent Scowcroft, was the chairman of the 1983 Scowcroft Commission that established the foundation for US nuclear deterrence and arms control policy through the present day. As the United States enters a new era of strategic challenges, the Scowcroft Center’s Forward Defense program is proud to play a central role in crafting an effective and nonpartisan strategic forces strategy and policy for the twenty-first century.

The 2022 National Defense Strategy and Nuclear Posture Review caution that the United States will, for the first time in its history, face the challenge of simultaneously deterring two nuclear great powers, each with aggressive revisionist goals. Our Nuclear Strategy Project, within the Forward Defense program, focuses on the role of nuclear deterrence, nuclear strategy and employment, missile defense, and arms control in deterring conventional aggression and nuclear escalation against the United States, its allies, and partners.

Principal research areas

Nuclear Strategy

Shape US nuclear strategy and implications for extended deterrence, allied assurance, and nuclear escalation.

Inform the national and/or international debate concerning potential changes in nuclear strategy and nuclear force structure.

Assess the changing requirements for extended deterrence and assurance of allies under nuclear triploarity.

Arms Control

Understand and shape the changing nature of and role for arms control in the new trilateral security environment.

Assess the relationship between US nuclear deterrence requirements and nuclear arms control to inform US negotiating positions for a potential future arms control framework.

Missile Defense

Shape the relationship between homeland missile defense and US nuclear strategy as it relates to North Korea, Iran, Russia, and China.

Anticipate and inform the national and international debate on new technologies for missile defense and its implications for strategic stability.

Emerging Threats

Assess the implications of new threats and technologies for US nuclear deterrence and strategy.

Understand and assess which threats have the greatest potential for affecting the military balance and nuclear deterrence.

Must Reads


Feb 2, 2024

Requirements for nuclear deterrence and arms control in a two-nuclear-peer environment

By Greg Weaver and Amy Woolf

Gregory Weaver and Amy Woolf discuss the future of US nuclear posture and arms control, as the United States will soon face two adversaries with peer nuclear arsenals.

Arms Control China

Commentary & quick analysis

New Atlanticist

Sep 13, 2023

What the Putin-Kim authoritarian get-together means for Russia’s war and North Korea’s capabilities

By Atlantic Council experts

Experts react to Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meeting at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.

China Conflict

New Atlanticist

Aug 18, 2023

Experts react: The US-Japan-South Korea summit was ‘historic.’ But what did it accomplish?

By Atlantic Council experts

President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and President Yoon Suk Yeol set forward a common security agenda at Camp David. Atlantic Council experts share their insights on what’s next.

China East Asia

New Atlanticist

Aug 3, 2023

Congress should fund the nuclear sea-launched cruise missile

By Robert Soofer and Walter B. Slocombe

The deployment of SLCM-Ns would send a clear message to adversary and ally alike that the United States maintains the resolve and capabilities to respond to any foe’s nuclear use.

Nuclear Deterrence Security & Defense

New Atlanticist

Jul 19, 2023

Experts react: South Korea embarks on a new nuclear era. How will it play out?

By Atlantic Council experts

US and South Korean officials just met in Seoul for the inaugural meeting of the Nuclear Consultative Group, a new bilateral platform to coordinate deterrence against a North Korean nuclear attack.

Crisis Management East Asia

New Atlanticist

Jun 28, 2023

Reading between the lines of the new North Korea intelligence estimate

By Markus Garlauskas

The US intelligence community has just released its National Intelligence Estimate on North Korea, a watershed analysis. But more is worth adding to the discussion.

China Intelligence

Reports & issue briefs


Feb 2, 2024

Requirements for nuclear deterrence and arms control in a two-nuclear-peer environment

By Greg Weaver and Amy Woolf

Gregory Weaver and Amy Woolf discuss the future of US nuclear posture and arms control, as the United States will soon face two adversaries with peer nuclear arsenals.

Arms Control China

Issue Brief

Jan 31, 2024

A US-South Korea alliance strategic memo on deterrence

By Markus Garlauskas, Lauren D. Gilbert

With North Korea’s rapidly advancing military technology, aggressive nuclear policy changes, and deepening ties with the PRC making deterrence on the Korean Peninsula increasingly more complex, this is how the US and South Korea can shore up cooperative deterrence and boost alliance resilience.

China Defense Policy
Snow leopard in the rain

Atlantic Council Strategy Paper Series

Jan 17, 2024

Six ‘snow leopards’ to watch for in 2024

Atlantic Council foresight experts spot the underappreciated phenomena that could have outsize impact on the world, driving global change and shaping the future.

Climate Change & Climate Action Defense Technologies
Image for Deliberate nuclear use in a war over Taiwan: Scenarios and considerations for the United States


Nov 30, 2023

Deliberate nuclear use in a war over Taiwan: Scenarios and considerations for the United States

By Matthew Kroenig

Matthew Kroenig argues the US and the PRC would have incentives to use nuclear weapons in a Taiwan war. The US must deter PRC nuclear use.

Arms Control China

Issue Brief

Nov 22, 2023

The role of nuclear weapons in a Taiwan crisis

By Gregory Weaver

Nuclear deterrence would be key in a Taiwan crisis, in part because a PLA amphibious fleet would be vulnerable to a US nuclear strike.

China Conflict

Past events

In the news

In the News

Feb 16, 2024

Garlauskas published in Foreign Affairs

On February 15, Markus Garlauskas and the Korea Society’s Jonathan Corrado published a new piece in Foreign Affairs titled, “The Arsenal of Autocracy: How North Korean Weapons Fuel Conflict—and How to Stop the Flow.” The article emphasizes the importance of building a United States-led international effort to stop North Korea from establishing arms trade relationships […]

Arms Control China

In the News

Feb 13, 2024

Guevara Moyano in on arms transfer controls

By Inigo Guevara Moyano

On February 13, Transatlantic Security Initiative nonresident senior fellow Inigo Guevara Moyano published an opinion piece on the website discussing arms transfer controls.

Arms Control Europe & Eurasia

In the News

Feb 9, 2024

Zysk in on nuclear threats and de-escalation

By Katarzyna Zysk

On February 9, Transatlantic Security Initiative nonresident senior fellow Katarzyna Zysk was quoted in discussing the Russian nuclear threats. 

Europe & Eurasia Nuclear Nonproliferation

In the News

Feb 6, 2024

Garlauskas quoted in the Daily Beast on fears of North Korean aggression

On February 5, Markus Garlauskas’ remarks from a recent public event at the Korea Society were quoted by the Daily Beast. The article, examining rising fears of North Korean aggression, referenced his recent comments that the focus should not be on full-scale war, but “in that space between provocation of war.” 

China Conflict

In the News

Jan 31, 2024

Garlauskas published in Newsweek on rising threat of North Korea

On January 30, Markus Garlauskas published an op-ed in Newsweek at their request on “The Rising Threat of Kim Jong Un’s North Korea.” In his article, he explained that despite recent concerns that Pyongyang will pursue war on the Korean Peninsula, the imminent threats posed by North Korea are its advancing weapons programs, its evolving […]

Defense Technologies Indo-Pacific

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Forward Defense

Forward Defense, housed within the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, generates ideas and connects stakeholders in the defense ecosystem to promote an enduring military advantage for the United States, its allies, and partners. Our work identifies the defense strategies, capabilities, and resources the United States needs to deter and, if necessary, prevail in future conflict.